Have you ever wondered how so many beauty salons, web design companies, attorneys or Mexican restaurants can exist in the same geographic area? Especially in small populated areas? Maybe the demand is high. Or, perhaps some of these businesses have set themselves apart by targeting a niche market.
A niche is a special area of demand for a product or service. Not all beauty salons, for example, are created equal in price, customer service, convenient location and hours, scheduling, stylist expertise and so on. The same is literally true for all businesses; web design, marketing consultants, hardware stores, attorneys. The list goes on.
Creating a niche and marketing to both your general and niche markets is a smart business and marketing strategy. You cannot expect to start a business with millions of world wide competitors (via the Internet), hundreds or thousands of regional competitors and a dozen or more local competitors, and instantly, or easily, gain a fair market share without creating a niche market.
Every business has a niche. The key is identifying what that niche is. An online retailer like Amazon.com has a different niche than competitors Barnes & Noble or Borders who rely more on developing a local presence and foot traffic. A few years ago DHL came out with a brilliant commercial pitting itself against the leading overnight delivery service. DHL did not claim to be number one or lower priced. Instead they capitalized on a niche market, being number two and a reliable back up service when you, the consumer, need it most. It was a brilliant campaign.
Identifying or creating a niche means digging deeper into what sets your business, product or service apart from the competition. The typical marketing question is “Why would I buy from you instead of Company X?” Your answer will likely just scratch the surface and match what many competitors could claim. This is where you dig deeper. Look at your location, hours of operation, years of experience, price point, friendly staff, response time to customer inquiries or processing orders, the quality of your product or delivery of your service, personalized attention, and so on.
For example, marketing easy access to your business from a major road or highway is a niche that should drive traffic and make sales soar. If you are the only video store in your area play it up. If your video store carries a large selection of hard to find movies in VHS format and stays open until midnight, those are two more niche markets. Being a new wholesale supplier in a regional area is big news to your local city as well as the region, creating multiple niches for your business overnight. Claims of being the first, the only one or the original are unique niche selling points that no one else can (legitimately) claim.
Do not wait for your industry or market to become saturated to identify and market your niche. Start now. Work both your general market as well as your niche market to develop a solid foundation for success so you can survive when competition does heat up. As your business grows or your industry changes so will your niche opportunities grow and change.